Injuries: get better, faster
You may remember reading my article on ‘First Aid for Back Pain’ which gives advice on what you should do on the first onset of back pain. However, Osteopaths treat much more than back pain and are qualified to treat muscle and joint problems anywhere in the body.
We all experience sprains and strains at some point in life and for most they are a painful but temporary reminder to be a little more careful. Prompt action can help your body to heal faster and may prevent further injury or prolonged pain.
Causes of Injury
Strained or ‘pulled’ muscles often happen when we over exert untrained muscles, train without properly warming up or try to go beyond a joint’s natural flexibility. Sometimes we feel the pain straight away, however some injuries might not cause pain until later on.
So what can you do to help?
Remember RICE (Relative rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation), using these can help to relieve the pain and start the healing process.
Relative rest: The first thing to do if you feel pain is to reduce the offending activity. Pain is usually your body’s way of telling you that there is something wrong that needs your attention. It can be normal to feel a little sore after exercises for a day or two but if it is more than this, pushing through the pain is rarely beneficial. However, movement stimulates the healing process so stay as mobile as you comfortably can. Try to keep the joint moving through a comfortable range of motion, without forcing it to the point of pain. This will help to encourage blood flow and keep your joint flexible whilst it heals. You should slowly build your activity levels up as your symptoms resolve.
Ice: Cooling the area using an ice pack can help to reduce swelling and pain. Wrap an ice pack in a thin tea towel to avoid direct skin contact and then apply the pack to the injured area for 10-15 minutes. You should repeat this several times a day for the first 72 hours. This will help to control the inflammation, making it easier for your body to get blood and nutrients to the area and resolve the injured tissues.
Compression: Gently applying a compression dressing may help to temporarily support the injured joint and reduce swelling. However, remove this immediately if there are any signs of reduced circulation to the area (numbness, pins and needles, the skin turning white or blue etc).
Elevation: If the injury is in the lower limb (knee or ankle), elevating the area a little can make it easier for your body to drain fluids that might accumulate around the area, causing swelling and pain.
When to seek medical attention
If you have pain that cannot be controlled with over the counter painkillers, cannot put weight on the injured limb, experience paralysis or loss of sensation or the swelling is very bad, seek help from your local A&E department or telephone 111 for advice.
Osteopathy and injuries
If the pain or swelling fails to improve within a week, a visit to an Osteopath may be beneficial. I would be happy to assess your injury, advise you on the correct treatment and provide some manual therapy, which may help your injury get better faster.